Organ transplant is surgery that replaces a diseased organ, such as a kidney or liver, with a healthy organ from a donor. A multi-organ transplant replaces more than one organ at one time. Sometimes more than two organs can be transplanted. For some transplants, the diseased organ is left in place.
Examples of multi-organ transplants include:
- Heart and lung.
- Pancreas and kidney.
- Liver and heart.
- Liver, small bowel, and pancreas.
Usually the organs are transplanted from the same donor. This helps lower the risk that your body will reject the new organs.
In some cases, doctors may choose to replace only one of the unhealthy organs with a transplanted organ. This is done when the new organ may help improve the function of the other diseased one. If the other organ doesn't get better, then it can also be replaced with a new organ.
Your doctor or a transplant center will do tests to see if a transplant will work well for you. This will depend on things like your age, your weight, and whether you have certain risks, such as a medical condition. If your tests show that a transplant is a good option for you, you'll be put on a waiting list to receive new organs.
Choosing a transplant center
Your doctor can refer you to an organ transplant center. You can get information about different centers and talk with your doctor about your best option. When choosing a transplant center, consider things like cost and payment options, location and travel, and family support. Find out what types of organ transplants are offered. Learn as much as you can about each center.
What to Expect
You will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your new organs healthy and strong. This includes healthy eating, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. You'll also need to take daily medicines to prevent your immune system from rejecting the new organs.
You will have regular checkups and blood tests to see how well your new organ is working. You'll have these checkups less often over time.
You may have to do things to reduce your risk of infection. This may include avoiding large crowds where you could be exposed to a virus like the flu. You may also have tests to check for certain types of cancer.
How long you'll spend in the hospital depends on how healthy you are before the surgery. It also depends on which organs were transplanted and how well your body accepts the donated organs. Your hospital stay may last for a few days or up to a few weeks.
After a transplant, many people say they feel better than they have in years. Over time, you may find that you can do more activities than you did before. But you may need to limit certain activities, such as contact sports. This depends on what kind of transplant you had.
Having good support is important throughout the process of getting a transplant. Waiting for your transplant can be hard emotionally. After your surgery, you may have concerns about your health and your new organs. You'll also have a lot to manage, like taking new medicines and going to follow-up visits.
Getting support from others, such as friends and family, can help during this time. A counselor can help you learn to cope with stress and other emotions before and after your procedure.
Many people who have an organ transplant feel anxious or depressed. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be depressed. Depression can be treated with medicines and counseling.
Why It Is Done
This surgery is done when more than one organ (such as the heart, lung, kidney, or pancreas) is diseased or failing and other treatments haven't worked. Doctors can transplant the organs at the same time, rather than doing separate surgeries.
How Well It Works
Organ transplants are more successful today than ever before. How successful the transplant is depends on:
- Which organs are transplanted.
- How many organs are transplanted. For example, some transplants involve more than two organs.
- The disease that has caused your organ to fail.
- Your overall health. After the transplant, it's important to keep a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating healthy foods and being active. Don't smoke. And try to limit alcohol. If you're getting a liver transplant, do not drink alcohol.
- Whether you take your medicines as prescribed.
- Finding and treating organ rejection early. This makes it more likely that your transplanted organs will stay healthy. That's why it's important to go to follow-up appointments and get tests.
Like any surgery, a multi-organ transplant has some risks. The risks may depend on which organs were transplanted. Risks include:
- Organ rejection. Your body's immune system tries to attack the transplanted organ. This happens because the transplanted organ doesn't match your own tissue exactly.
- Problems such as bleeding during and after the surgery. Because these transplants involve more than one organ, the risk for problems may be higher.
- Infection. The medicines you'll need to take to help your body accept the new organs can also make it harder for your body to fight infection.
- Certain cancers, such as skin cancer. This risk increases because anti-rejection medicines can also prevent the body from attacking cancer cells.